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Roads most important issue for Sudburians, poll finds

Meanwhile, Brian Bigger, the city's former auditor general who stepped down to make a run for the mayor's seat, has made repairing roads a central theme of his campaign.
It likely comes as little surprise, but a recent OraclePoll survey found the state of the city's roads topped the list of election issues for city voters. File photo

Meanwhile, Brian Bigger, the city's former auditor general who stepped down to make a run for the mayor's seat, has made repairing roads a central theme of his campaign. If elected, he vowed the city would no longer repair roads, only to come back months later and rip them up to repair watermains.

“We need to fix the pipes before we fix the roads,” he told earlier in the campaign. “I will ensure that we have a plan that will co-ordinate the repair of our roads and pipes underground.”

Interestingly, eighteen per cent of those polled said they “don't know” what is the most important issue facing the city.

The next most important issue was taxes, where 14 per cent of respondents said it was the city's biggest priority.

Early budget forecasts for the City of Greater Sudbury estimate a tax increase of 4.9 per cent in 2015, 3.5 per cent in 2016 and 3.1 per cent in 2017. But those numbers are very preliminary and — as the annual budget deliberations have shown time and again — will likely be lower by the time council votes on it in 2015.

Mayoral candidate Jeff Huska has said if elected he would not increase municipal taxes more than the rate of inflation, while Bigger has vowed to freeze municipal taxes altogether in his first year in office.

Bigger said he would find money in the budget to maintain existing services while freezing taxes, but has not specified where he would find the necessary savings.

Jobs, employment, and the economy were top-of-mind with 10 per cent of the 500 people polled.

The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce said in January it expects economic growth in the Greater Sudbury area to be sluggish over the next two years.

If elected mayor, candidate Ron Dupuis has said he would use his connections built up over more than 20 years as a city councillor to create a team of economic ambassadors for the city, tasked with raising awareness and interest in Sudbury's business sector.

One item of Melanson's platform is to spur business interest by creating an entirely new sector in the city, an aerospace supply industry.

While council's performance has been a big topic of debate in Sudbury over the past four years, only seven per cent of respondents said the election itself — and the need for change around the council table — was the most important issue facing the city.

Similarly, despite high-profile scandals like the transit and Elton John ticket debacles that saw council accused of secrecy, just four per cent of survey respondents said transparency and integrity were top-of-mind for them. 

Deadlocked at three per cent were seniors issues, health care and recreational services, while at two per cent, crime and drug control came in at the bottom of the top ten issues of those polled.

A recent report from the Fraser Institute found policing costs are rising in most Canadian cities while crime rates are falling.

The election report represents the findings from a telephone survey of 500 City of Greater Sudbury residents 18 years of age and older. The survey was conducted by Oraclepoll for The surveys were conducted between Sept. 24 and Sept. 26. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 per cent, and is considered accurate 19 times out of 20.


Jonathan Migneault

About the Author: Jonathan Migneault

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